For the majority of college students, financial aid is a fact of life. You depend on it to help with the cost of your university housing, purchasing textbooks and paying for your classes. Another common aspect of student culture is drug use. With more states starting to decriminalize marijuana, you may be tempted to engage in some recreational drug use. However, it important to remember that in Indiana, marijuana is still very much illegal.
If Bloomington law enforcement catches you with drugs, whether or not you are actively taking classes, your university can suspend you for violating the Student Code of Conduct. Furthermore, you could seriously jeopardize your financial aid. Read below to find out more about how a drug conviction affects your eligibility to receive student aid.
Types of conviction
If a federal or state court convicts you of drug possession, possession with intent to sell or actively selling an illegal substance, federal grants and loans may no longer be an option to pay for school.
In addition to the type of conviction, the timing of the charge and conviction also matter. For example, if you committed the crime while you were receiving student aid and later convicted, you could lose your eligibility status. However, if law enforcement charges you with a drug crime while you are not enrolled in classes, such as during the summer, then a conviction will not disqualify you from receiving financial aid. However, if the charge includes drug trafficking, you may lose your financial aid eligibility regardless of when it occurred.
The conviction will follow you
The location of your school in reference to the charge does not make a difference. This means that if you went to Florida for Spring Break and were busted for drug possession, the possible conviction will still count against you for federal aid purposes at your university in Indiana.
"Three strikes" rule
In the past, one drug conviction would have cost you your eligibility for life. However, in 2009, federal financial aid offices adopted an unofficial "three strikes" rule. Typically, you will lose one year of eligibility for each conviction. For example, for your first offense, you will lose one year of financial aid and after your second offense, you will lose two years. If you get a third offense, you risk losing your eligibility permanently. For more serious charges, such as conspiracy to sell or distribute, a first offense will cost you two years and second offense could end your student aid indefinitely.
If you are a college student facing a drug charge, you are not only risking having a permanent mark on your criminal record, you are also risking your college career. However, it is important to remember that you still have rights and options. Your attorney will be able to help you defend against the charges.